Freshmen Win Praise From Chizik

News and notes are featured from Auburn's Friday football practice.

Auburn, Ala.--After taking Thursday off from practice, the Tigers put on the full pads for the first of two Friday practices and the session received generally good reviews from the head coach.

"We started practice off at a great, great tempo," Gene Chizik said. "I wish we would have maintained that same tempo near the end. I thought we dropped off just a little bit, but it was a good day overall."

Chizik said one of the reasons the pace of practice slowed was because the Tigers were installing new elements of the offense and defense on Friday. "It got a little sloppy out there, certainly with the young guys still learning, which was what we were expecting," the head coach noted.

Asked about what caught his attention from Wednesday's scrimmage, the first of the preseason, Chizik said, "What sticks out to me is a lot of the young guys--not that some of the older guys didn't play well also.

"When it comes to the young running backs, I thought they had a nice day. I thought Corey Grant ran the ball well, Tre Mason ran the ball well and Mike Blakely ran the ball well. We gave them a lot of opportunity. We wanted to see where they were at.

Tre Mason

"Erique Florence on the other side of the football continues to have some good days," Chizik said. "He is learning. The process has been fast back there. He had a forced fumble and he is really playing aggressive and that was really good to see.

"Angelo Blackson on the defensive line is another young guy who is really coming along," Chizik noted. "He is one of those young guys we hope surfaces. Not out of nowhere. He is one of those guys you hope pops up and does a great job. He is working definitely in that direction. We have some young guys out there like that we are really proud of. We have to keep bringing them along."

Chizik said the Tigers are still not ready to name a starter in the quarterback competition. Another scrimmage, scheduled for Saturday, will provide more input on that decision.

"All three quarterbacks did some nice things on Wednesday," he said. "I don't want to say there is anything there that really separated them. We still have a ways to go."

When the Tigers use the "wildcat" formation, redshirt freshman Trovon Reed and true freshman Quan Bray are candidates for that assignment. Both of the receivers were quarterbacks in high school. "There might be a third in there as we talk through it," Chizik said.

In other news and notes:

*Mike Dyer missed practice on Friday and the coach said the sophomore is "banged up."

*T'Sharvan Bell, a junior cornerback and nickel back, continues to make progress as a player and a leader on defense, said Chizik, who added that Bell needs to continue to improve.

*Another cornerback, freshman Jonathan Rose, really needs to improve, Chizik said. "Jonathan Rose has a long way to go," Chizik noted. "He has got to grow up. He has got to keep working."

Cornerback Jonathan Rose is one of a large group of true freshmen competing for playing time.

*Chizik said that sophomore middle linebacker Jake Holland, who is running first team, is making progress as he prepares to take over for multi-year starter Josh Bynes. "I think his confidence is becoming apparent," the coach said.

*If sophomore kicker Cody Parkey doesn't do a good job of replacing four-year starter Wes Byrum, it won't be because of a lack of leg strength. Parkey is hitting the ball with much more power than he did at this time last year.

Wide receiver DeAngelo Benton is trying to break into the playing rotation for the first time as a junior.

*A.J. Greene, who finished spring training first team on the depth chart at left tackle, is still out of action, opening the door for redshirt freshman Chad Slade and true freshman Greg Robinson to make a push for first team status at offensive tackle.

*Anthony Gulley Morgan continues to make progress, said Chizik, who noted the converted cornerback should be able to become a good third down back this season.

"He has got an opportunity to help our team, but he has to come on and do it," the coach pointed out. "Chizik said they have seen "flashes" of his potential, but added Morgan still has a lot to learn about pass protections and other parts of the offense. "He has got some time, but he has to kick it up another gear," the coach said.

*Chizik said the returning starters at running back, Dyer and Onterio McCalebb, "are not all they can be yet." He added, "They are not even close. I just want to be clear with that one, too."

*The Tigers will practice again on Friday evening and have one practice on Saturday when they scrimmage plus one practice on Sunday.

*Fan Day is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the Auburn Arena. Admission is free and doors open at 1:30 p.m.

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